issue 20 | 1.29.18

devon h. dolan
Dec 4, 2019 · 4 min read

I’m back in NYC and got some much needed r&r this weekend. This Sundance will be known as the one where Dan Friedkin opened up his checkbook by virtue of 30West and Neon. A slightly obvious observation is that most “indie” studios are now keeping their pipes filled by developing and producing projects internally, meaning there are fewer acquisition slots, which results in infertile ground for sellers as buyers can now circle their prey for a longer time. There were ~115 films at Sundance this year; Netflix waltzed in with four, A24 with two (the buzzier ones), Amazon with two, and Neon nabbed four (so far). A complete list of Sundance acquisitions has yet to be released as there are many deals still hanging in the air, but we’ll have a better grasp on the market in a few weeks’ time. I sense a changing of the tide though. The resurgence of the theatrical run, a verifiable online/offline marketing strategy in the buyer’s pitch. The “omg, but what about the streamers” talk was noticeably absent (finally), and on the newer front, no one I know had a great experience with Moviepass (sadly). The New Frontier VR program continues to impress, and to segue into technological innovation, I’m stoked to share with you an AR/AI tool that my friend Shirin developed (with Or) called Volume. The quick YouTube demo takes the dancing scene in Pulp Fiction and plants the characters in their living room. It’s incredible. This NextWeb article was published early last week and has since elicited inbound interest from VCs. I work with Shirin and Ziv through the mentorship program at New Inc — they utilize immersive tech to preserve cultural history for museums and institutions through their studio Raycaster. Check them out!


Esports One, which provides AI-based analytics for esports fans, raised $3m in seed. VB

Oculus Story Studio veterans form their own production company, Fabel. Verge

Occipital, a computer vision company, raised a $12m Series B. TC

Light Field Lab, a light field based holographic display startup, raised a $7m seed round (!). RoadtoVr

Songtradr, a music rights managements and licensing platform, raised a $4m Series A. LABiz

Barstool Sports raised $15m from Chernin to create offline assets. BBerg

SoftBank wants to raise $5b in debt, to use Arm as collateral. Info

Appetize, a point of sale system for entertainment venues, raised a $20b Series B. TC

Gfycat acquires movie-marketing company, MovieLala. TC

Nintendo is killing it first mobile app, Miitomo. Cnet

Kuaishou, a Chinese live streaming startup, to raise $1b and IPO this year. Reuters

CNN is shutting down Casey Neistat’s Beme. TC


Netflix adds 8.3m subs in Q4'17 and surpasses $100b market cap. ReCode

David Goodfriend to launch, which will stream broadcast channels for free (Aereo?). Bberg

ESPN exploring the sale of FiveThirtyEight. TBL

Fox’s £11.7B takeover of Sky is not in the public interest states UK Market Authority. UK

Scripps to sell 34 radio stations in its restructuring. SA

Otter Media buys out the remaining stakes in Ellation and Fullscreen. VideoInk

IFC Films inks an output deal with Hulu. Deadline

Meg Whitman joins Jeff Katzenburg’s NewTV venture (hmm). Bberg Info


List of 2018 Oscar contenders (!). Verge

The Sundance 2018 award winners (!). Deadline

The 2018 Grammy awards. Billboard

Tencent takes a minority stake in Skydance at a $1.5b valuation. WSJ

Six Flags to make the first solar powered theme park, in Jersey (!). BW

Spheres, a three-part VR space series, sold to CityLights for low seven figs. Wired

Neon and AGBO acquire Assassination Nation out of Sundance for $10m+. Variety

Warner Animation Group partnered with Dr Seuss Enterprises, Cat in the Hat in the works. Variety

Netflix is trying to acquire the Cloverfield sequel from Paramount. THR

Neon and AMC’s Shudder acquire Revenge. Wrap

A&E and Sundance Institute partner on doc film grants. Variety

Damien Chazelle to create a show for Apple THR

Ryan Reynold’s inks a first look deal with Fox. Deadline

Tiffany Haddish inks first look with HBO. THR

Annapurna acquires Sorry To Bother You. Deadline

Right-wing Hindu groups are protesting over a controversial Bollywood film, Paadmavat. Reuters

Moviepass launches Moviepass Ventures to try to get into the film finance biz, acquired American Animals. Deadline Variety


Reese Witherspoon’s next big act, super producer. NYT

A report on NBC’s Left Field, the team tasked with designed innoavtive news products. NiemanLab

750 US communities have developed their own broadband networks (!). Motherboard

TV actors and writers share their salaries in an anonymous doc (!). Variety

A brief rundown on Sundance’s VR lineup. Wired

Alex Zhang (ex-Alibaba Pictures) on Chinese entertainment business (video). LI

Brent Lang and Ramin Setoodeh’s negative assessment of the Sundance market. Variety

Benedict Evans (a16z) on tv and retail advertising. BE

Kevin Roose (NYT) proposes that Facebook should look more like Instagram. NYT

Critics picks from Sundance. Variety

TiVo’s 2017 global insights report. TiVo

List of Sundance panel videos. Sundance

Harvey’s last days before the news broke. VF

How telecoms are making their way into digital ad revenues. Axios

Comcast Ventures is looking to double down on blockchain in 2018. MF

Summary of potential Nvidia competitors based in China. Nanalyze

Elon Musk’s new compensation structure, performance based. NYT

  • Watch: Scott Galloway, Disney prepares for war — YT
  • Listen: How I Built This: BET with Robert Johnson (!) Stitcher
  • Read: Is RuPaul’s Drag Race the most radical show on TV? NYT

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devon h. dolan